Dear Mr. Kurzweil,
I have just read an article about you on the news’ app of my smartphone, getting excited for your vision of the world and future, which covers even the research for immortality.
The piece reminded me some verses from Goethe’s Faust which may be you know well:
“Werd’ich zum Augenblicke sagen:
verweile doch! Du bist so schön!
Dann kannst du mich in Fesseln schlagen
Dann werd’ich gern zu Grunde gehen!”
The impression is that they fit well your personality, and perhaps mine too.
I absolutely agree with your idea of an exponential trend of the progress, as well as with the optimistic fear, or prudent optimism if preferred, concerning the Artificial Intelligence; after all, it could allow us to increase our same intelligence sooner or later. It’s thrilling the wait for when it will be possible to navigate through the whole known world in a virtual trip totally indistinguishable from a real one.
To the same extent, I share your confidence that within few decades the medical science will overcome almost all diseases, and think therefore with hope to the day when cellular size “nanorobots” will be able to reach every site in the body, reprogram cells, regenerate tissues, and so reverse even my incipient blindness.
Despite some regret for my age perhaps too advanced, this semi omnipotent technology leads me also to consider immortality as a possible option, instead as the inevitable dark fate of all.
However, though body regeneration and virtual reality are the first steps to this goal, in my opinion there is also need for another one. Our bodies are not made for eternity in fact: most of their functions are useless in such an infinite life, and “virtually” we can certainly experience all the known world, but hardly beyond: “mass” is the insuperable obstacle which prevents it.
Yet, introducing the complex numbers in the description of a mass, that is an imaginary component aside the common real one, would lead to a wider dimension of what is “true”, which seems to me strictly linked to the oneiric experience. While in this state, in fact, apparently consciousness exists without the need of a material body. Its own one is not present in the “sites” which it reaches or navigates through, nor things which it gets in contact with appear to have a “real” body, at least in terms of a stable shape; finally, but not for importance, often what consciousness perceives – like for example flying freely in the air – does not belong to the ordinary experience of its body, either mental or sensorial, and cannot therefore be produced by the brain. On the other hand, it is often impossible to discriminate whether a certain fact happened dreaming or awake, and as this distinction is itself definition of what is true, it is also wrong considering the oneiric state of consciousness nothing more than a sort of pleasant side effect of the material body, on the contrary, its “world”, offering a much wider spectrum of experiences, should be regarded as the full domain of existence, with effects on the reality completely unexplored. The problem is how to control it voluntarily.
Nothing new: similar thoughts already occurred in much greater minds than mine since the classic Greek antiquity. The only difference is that in the meanwhile Einstein wrote his theory of relativity, and now the artificial intelligence is exploding.
The equations of the said theory describe the mass as a property of things which increases with their speed up to infinite at the speed of light, and becomes imaginary beyond. This let many people consider impossible the inter stellar navigation, ranging the distances from four light years to billions. However, the same theory does not deprive of meaning an imaginary mass, and thus does not exclude the possibility of hyper luminal speeds; on the contrary, it depicts the world a traveller would encounter in such a trip very similar to, if not coincident with that of the oneiric state of consciousness, which allows even going up and down through time.
The daily alternation of dreamy and awake states of consciousness gives me the impression of a window opened on this landscape; the essentially vacuum-structured nature of the universe lets me think of it as an architecture of forces which give shape to the energy by moving small droplets of it according to an inscrutable design. So, the full domain of existence, or the consciousness’ world, seems to me much like a psychic dimension, potentially “all inclusive”, where different levels of imagination can create the realities they want like different videos on a screen.
This is a much more complex world than that ordinarily known, but its properties are better suited to immortality than those of the latter, as a portal between the two sides of existence could open the way to infinite experience too.
I like the idea that the next step of science will be the discovery of this portal which, in a SF book I am presently writing, is based on a way to unfasten the above said forces, that is the links between particles.
Preserving in this process the full information about the related architecture, it is possible to drive the resulting record wherever desired at the necessary speed, and then reproduce the original solid building once on site. This would give round trip access to the said psychic realm, and hence a deeper sense to immortality.
I find exciting your work and envy a bit the way you can do it: in permanent dialogue with beautiful minds which inspire and encourage.
On my side, instead, I am a bit demotivated and though determined to bring to a plausible conclusion the ideas described above, proceed slowly with the book.
The reason is that, other than in your fervent California, here in Italy even the best projects can be left dying in the indifference if they are disliked by someone of power.
Many years ago it happened to me as an engineer in the aero-space field, it happened again later, I denounced it in two books, but nothing changed.
Be happy of yourself and your Country.
Fernando De Benedictis